Brighton Festival 2017
Now you see it is a brand new solo dance theatre piece, written, choreographed and performed by Antonia Grove, Artistic Director of Probe, a Brighton-based dance theatre company. It brings to life the internal universe of a woman contemplating her past and reconsidering her strategies for survival. The work was developed in 2015-16 and is co-directed with award-winning theatre-maker, writer and performer, Sue MacLaine, as Co-Director. The piece features a sound score created in collaboration with composer/musician Scott Smith, and lighting design by Aideen Malone.
Now you see it is a rich and spellbindingly disconcerting piece of physical theatre, which captures the looping, cyclical, ordered chaos of our lives. It reflects the frustration of how our past, present and future can writhe around each other in ever decreasing circles, until we find new ways of seeing things that allow us to loosen the coil and move into a different loop.
Antonia Grove, in collaboration with Sue MacLaine, has created a beautifully conceived piece that showcases both her technical excellence as a dancer, and her skill as a creator, dissecting and revealing the psyche of her character to the audience. Blending words and dance, she zooms in and out of childhood trauma, illustrating the way in which it has impacted her character with recurring dance sequences, repeated lists, and an ever altering stream of remembered experiences. It’s hard for the audience to make sense of what’s going on. Every time she steps up to the microphone, we hope for a clarification, but end up even more confused. We’re left with loads of questions. What do the knives and forks mean? Did you see the gorilla lurking in the shadows? What are those other clothes on the rail? When will that alarm/breaking plates sound stop? Is this autobiographical? It feels like that’s exactly the point: there are so many things that we can’t get to the bottom of.
Grove’s physical strength and expressive range are mesmerising throughout –we’re watching a graceful athlete, a hooded defensive teen, a battle scarred boxer, a wary animal, a frenzied rave dancer and someone who can barely drag herself across the stage. The staging and soundtrack reflect the zooming, looping, all-over-the-place feel of the piece. As we wait for the performance to begin the stage is murky, dimly lit and swathed in clouds of dry ice. At other times, it’s bare, bright and exposed. And sometimes it’s backlit with six pyramids of light through which Grove weaves her body. The volume of Grove’s voice changes – sometimes she’s unmic’d and you can barely hear her and sometimes she’s too loud, booming overhead through a loud speaker. The sound score weaves around the piece in cyclical unstable patterns, connecting to the themes in Grove’s text, reflecting them back to us in an insistent beat. It’s the music that leads us, and Grove, into the liberation of a new, lyrical loop and the piece’s uplifting end.
Now you see it is a mature piece of collaboration, focused around the creative urge and talent of one person. This is the first work in which Grove has put herself at the forefront of all its creativity, and she has pulled it off. She leads us deep into to the heart of human complexity, and takes us safely back again, our perceptions altered.